Over the last twenty years, the Jewish community system has invested considerable hopes and substantial resources in the burgeoning phenomenon of Jewish education for adults. What has been the impact of this investment? How does adult Jewish learning make a difference in people's lives?
This pioneering study of the Florence Melton Mini-School provides some answers to these and related questions. The authors found that the learners emerge with greater appreciation for and competence in Jewish text learning, increased and deeper connections with other Jews, and a much richer appreciation for the practice and observance of Judaism.
How and why these impacts occur unfolds through the authors' exploration into the conception, curriculum, and personnel that shape the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School. Through interviews, classroom observations, a survey of graduates, as well as a careful examination of teaching materials and other documents, they present a vivid portrait of an adult Jewish learning institution that operates in more than sixty sites across North America, Great Britain, Australia, and Israel.
Lisa D. Grant — Dr. Grant is an Associate Professor of Jewish Education on the New York campus of Hebrew Union College. She holds doctorate in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary. Her research and teaching interests include adult learning and religious development, teaching Bible to adults, and the place of Israel in American Jewish life.
Diane Tickton Schuster, — Dr. Diane Tickton Schuster is a member of the Visiting Faculty at HUC-JIR; she also teaches at the Institute for Informal Jewish Education at Brandeis University and in the Counseling Department at California State University at Fullerton.
Meredith Woocher, — Past Director of Research and Evaluation at The Covenant Foundation. She has worked with many non-for-profit organization and foundations to set organizational and programmatic direction and use the tools of evaluation to maximize success and encourage excellence.
Steven M. Cohen, — Steven M. Cohen is Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner. In the past, he served as Professor at The Melton Centre for Jewish Education; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and Queens College, CUNY. He has also been a Visiting Professor at Brandeis University, Yale University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Every year, almost three thousand new adult Jewish learners begin their studies at sixty-five Florence Melton Adult Mini-Schools. They are by no means a random cross-section of North American Jewry. As a group, they have a number of characteristics in common. At the same time, their differences tend to occupy a range of distinctive points across the Jewish socio-demographic map.